RFK Jr. will be considered for Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination. Trump didn’t file paperwork to qualify

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will be considered for the Libertarian Party’s nomination when party delegates vote to choose their presidential candidate Sunday.

Kennedy, who spoke at the party’s national convention in Washington, DC, on Friday, was nominated by a delegate Sunday on the convention floor, where his candidacy was met with boos from other delegates.

Donald Trump was also nominated on the convention floor Sunday, but Libertarian Party Chair Angela McArdle ruled the former president was not qualified because he did not submit nominating papers. Trump spoke Saturday at the convention, where he was loudly and consistently booed, particularly when he asked attendees to “nominate me or at least vote for me.”

Kennedy accepted the nomination in a short video statement in which he thanked party members for the “unexpected honor.” He said he hopes Libertarians will join “an alliance” of third-party and independent voters to help his campaign defeat President Joe Biden and Trump.

“I’m very grateful to the Libertarian Party for this great honor, and I look forward to an alliance across the country, a fusion alliance of all of these independent parties who are now challenging the Republican-Democrat corrupt duopoly,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy’s video was received with mild applause from a small group of delegates. His surrogates who made speeches touting his Libertarian candidacy ahead of his acceptance were met with loud boos from the audience.

Kennedy told CNN last week that he did not intend to seek the party’s nomination at the convention this weekend.

Tim O’Brien, a Libertarian delegate from New Jersey, said he felt Kennedy was trying to use the party for his own gain without respecting its values.

“We’ve had a lot of people come into the party, they’ll run, they’ll make a big stink and then leave. And I guarantee you, he may come here; he’s not going to be here after the election,” O’Brien said.

“We want people that are willing to say, full force, ‘We’re Libertarians, we’re staying with you guys,’” he added. “He has no need for us. He wants to get ballot access.”

Kennedy, a former Democrat, began courting Libertarian officials even before he left his party to run as an independent, meeting with McArdle in July and February to discuss their shared beliefs.

The Libertarian ticket was seen as a possible pathway for Kennedy to circumvent ballot-access hurdles and take advantage of the party’s access to ballots in dozens of states. Kennedy is on the ballot in six states so far, compared with 38 states for the Libertarians.

Kennedy’s running mate, Nicole Shanahan, told CNN ahead of her speech Sunday that the Libertarian Party is “more relevant than ever” and that she hopes Libertarians and will work together with Kennedy.

“I think that there’s a lot that we have in common, and I think that there’s a lot of overlap here, and I think that there’s a great deal of possibility of success of us working together,” the Silicon Valley attorney and entrepreneur said. Shanahan’s comments mark the first time she has taken questions from a major news outlet since she joined Kennedy’s campaign in March.

Kennedy told CNN last week following a rally in Colorado that his views on the environment, foreign policy and Covid-19 will appeal to Libertarian voters.

“My approach is a free-market approach, which appeals to Libertarians,” he said. “I’m against war, which I think is another important issue for Libertarians. I support constitutional rights. President Trump dismantled our constitutional rights during Covid. So I think Libertarians are probably more inclined to support me if they follow their philosophies.”

Trump and Kennedy in recent weeks have ramped up their attacks on each other, as the independent’s White House bid is increasingly viewed by the former president’s advisers as a potential problem in an election expected to be decided by a narrow margin in a handful of states.

Kennedy’s support in national surveys has reached double digits – at 16% in a CNN poll conducted last month by SSRS – with strong indications that he is siphoning support from both Trump and Biden.

As the threat has crystalized, so have Trump’s attacks on Kennedy. The former president now regularly attacks Kennedy in public remarks and on social media. Earlier this month, Trump released a lengthy video that labeled Kennedy a “Democrat plant.”

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Steve Contorno and Jack Forrest contributed to this report.

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